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Fri, 22 Nov 2019 05:53 GMT

Cuba Keeping Watchful Eye Over Events in Ally Venezuela


7Dnews London

Wed, 06 Feb 2019 19:05 GMT

Amid the crisis Venezuela is wrecked with, its President Nicolas Maduro is hanging on to power mainly thanks to the military that is backing him, which according to the United States is receiving support and advice from Cuba.

According to AFP, Havana denies the accusations from its old Cold War foe that its actions are degenerate. However, the close relationship between left-wing allies Venezuela and Cuba is old news.

"The time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba," US Vice President Mike Pence proclaimed Monday, February 4th, while adding, "Cuba's malign influence is evident in Venezuela and in Nicaragua".

Donald Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton, branded Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua together as a "troika of tyranny" in November.

The initial indication of how strong the relationship is politically, across the countries, was when Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, headed to Venezuela for his first overseas appointment after succeeding Raul Castro in April.

Cuba was also one of the first countries to offer its "strong support" to Maduro on January 23rd after opposition leader, Juan Guaido, declared himself acting president.

The relationship goes back to Maduro's mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, according to Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think-tank.

Chavez, who was Venezuelan president from 1999 until his death in 2013, "admired Fidel Castro, it was almost like a father-son relationship." He elaborated that, “the Cuban engagement in Venezuela began then and very, very strongly".

For Venezuelan lawyer and military specialist, Rocio San Miguel, Cuba's involvement in Venezuela's state apparatus probably dates back to 2004.

"Cuba got far more out of it than Venezuela," said former British ambassador Paul Webster Hare, who lived in both countries and is now a professor at Boston University.

"There were no two countries in the world that had as...integrated governments as Cuba and Venezuela…There are reports that Maduro has Cuban intelligence briefings every day."

San Miguel went so far as to say that "in the decision-making process there is Cuba above Maduro," although Shifter insists "there is no evidence of that".

Since Venezuela descended into political crisis with Guaido's self-proclamation, Cuba has denied interfering in Venezuela.

Even so, Cuba is closely monitoring events in Venezuela.

"I think they're extremely worried," said Shifter.

Latin America